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Advice for Microsoft Pinpoint and MarketPlaces Profiles

Have you updated your Pinpoint profile lately? The Microsoft online partner directory and associated product, MarketPlaces, provide exposure to the millions of visitors doing product research on the Microsoft business sites. To make the most of that opportunity, find some time soon to update your profile applying best practices from experts.

Advice from the Trenches
Anya Ciecierski, co-founder of the ERP SoftwareBlog and other Microsoft partner group blogs, recently shared some of her top suggestions for Pinpoint profiles.

"The biggest problem that I see with partners is that they filled out their profile years ago and they've become very out of date," Ciecierski said. "It's very important that you update profiles to reflect services associated with the most recent version of the software. Apparently, searches only deliver results based on the latest version of software."

"Customer reviews are also very important. Microsoft makes it very clear that reviews play a vital role in Pinpoint search rankings," added Ciecierski, who is also the Director of Marketing for CAL Business Systems, a Dynamics gold competency partner. "Very few partners have any reviews."

To improve your search results, Ciecierski recommends focusing on keywords. "Optimize for keywords. Think about how a prospect is going to find you," she said. "What phrases are they typing in and how will you stand out in comparison to the other partners listed?" Keep in mind that prospects can search by multiple attributes including location, competency, industry focus or business need.

A few additional pieces of Ciecierski's advice to improve your profile include:

  • Pay attention to the rules for what not to include in company, app and service descriptions. Back and forth with the Pinpoint review process can be time-consuming.

  • Take full advantage of linking to your Web site, both to guide prospects to your site and because the backlinks from a Microsoft site are valuable for SEO.

  • Personally ask your clients for reviews and make it as easy as possible for them to complete them.

Processes Keep Profiles Up to Date
As with most things, putting processes in place that will keep your profile up to date is the best way to ensure the tasks get done. With 88 customer references associated with its Microsoft Dynamics MarketPlace profile, AbleBridge starts the request process early.

"We incorporate asking for a review during the sales process," said Ryan Plourde, principal and founder of AbleBridge. "During our regular 30-day follow-up to ask how things are going, we'll specifically ask for the review."

Plourde reiterates advice on keeping product versions up to date. As an ISV as well as reseller, AbleBridge updates product listings with every solution update.

"The product description doesn't necessarily change but when we update a product, there is a whole chain of events that we go through," Plourde said. "One of those is to update versions supported in Pinpoint."

Still a Few Challenges
A common complaint from partners is that getting support when you have questions or are having trouble with Pinpoint is not a simple process. Frustration with the Pinpoint processes and lack of support has been an ongoing theme in conversations with partners in past Pinpoint stories. Currently, the "contact the Pinpoint Support Team" links are routed to the Partner Network general support site.    

According to Ciecierski, there are some confusing aspects to the Pinpoint profile process, with some fields linking back to MPN partner account data. Without knowing the "tricks," fine-tuning your profile can be frustrating. To help navigate those challenges, she has created "Pinpoint Profile Optimization Training," a training program for Microsoft partners. There is a fee for the training.

WPC Sessions
If you are headed to the Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), there are several Pinpoint sessions listed in the session catalog that should provide additional insight into optimizing your listing. "An insider's view - Pinpoint evolution" promises to share new features planned for the fall. The "Pinpoint lead generation training" offers help in distinguishing your profile from competitors, and is offered in three time slots to work into your schedule.

While Pinpoint may have its challenges, the site still offers partners exposure to the millions of visitors to Microsoft's business-facing Web sites. Building on the advice from partners who increase traffic to their own Web sites through Pinpoint, spend the time to optimize your listing. And then put the processes in place to keep your listing current instead of a task at the bottom of the list.

How have you found success with Pinpoint listings? Add a comment below or send me a note and let's share the knowledge. 

Posted by Barb Levisay on June 12, 2014